On Being Silent
Whenever I put my attention on the present moment, on the silence between words and sounds, on the space in between objects in my awareness, and the feeling of being that comes natural to existence, I find that I become much quieter, both internally and externally.
Sometimes this silence causes the people around me (coworkers, friends, and loved ones) to ask me if I’m feeling okay, citing my silence as the reason why they worry. But just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean I’m mad, or sad, or unhappy, or uncomfortable, or anxious or apathetic. It just means I’m being silent.
Even after I’ve let them know all is well and that I’m not thinking about anything in particular, just being quiet, I get the side eye and drawn out “well, okay… If you want to talk just let me know, I’m here for you” kind of thing. To some who aren’t used to being quiet for themselves, it seems like a threat, like something is wrong or they think that maybe even they did something wrong, but it’s not that.
When I find myself peacefully moving about my world in the only moment that is and will ever be available to me (NOW), I see my perceptions and my thoughts as merely energy waves pulsing through me, instead of attaching themselves to me and allowing them to take up all of my attention. Instead of switching focus from one thought to the next and so on, I find myself allowing thoughts and feelings to move through me in a more fluid way.
In this moment, I don’t get attached to my thoughts long enough to give them any reality by mulling them over internally or saying them out loud to others. I become more interested in perception and experiencing (being) rather than the interpretation of what is happening in my mind.
There are people in this world who seem to talk as much as they possibly can, sharing their stories, opinions, activities, interests, etc. with whoever will listen. In my experience, these people tend to be uncomfortable with silence, not just with their own, but other people’s silence. They can become visibly uncomfortable when nobody is talking or actually offended that you have nothing to share. They are so used to being in a state of person-hood (of thinking, judging, defending, wanting to change this of that etc.) that they can’t see past their own interpretations.
I used to struggle with keeping centered when people repeatedly ask me what is going on in my head, especially if their interpretation included the possibility of me being angry at them. I would get irritated and not understand how my silence could be interpreted as negative feelings and/or apathy towards others.
Now I understand that people can only understand things from their current level of consciousness. If a person is not used to silence within themselves because they are constantly distracting themselves with thinking, talking and activities, they cannot possibly understand silence in another person.
I’ve learned to not get caught up in others’ assumptions about me and how I experience the world. I now realize how impossible it is to explain to somebody how calming and peaceful it is to be silent instead of constantly trying to prove something to others.
Being present in the moment and experiencing reality from a witness perspective instead of a personal perspective is freeing. I only hope that others will be able to experience it for themselves one day.